Red Deer College says becoming a Polytechnic University is their number one priority this year.

They say that having the ability to grant degree's in this tough economic time would bring a major boost to Central Alberta.

RDC President Joel Ward says too many young adults from Central Alberta are leaving the region to get an education, and never coming back.

"There's stories throughout this entire region where parents have really struggled in terms of the extra costs that come with sending their kids away. Or their kids don't bother to go to school, and go up North to get a job that no longer exists. No person in Alberta should reasonably leave their region to get an education because it's not available to them."

Ward says high school students in Central Alberta are almost 10 percent less likely than students in Edmonton and Calgary to go to post-secondary , something that needs to change to be fair to kids.

Ward says it isn't just a request being made by the College, but from the Central Alberta community as well.

"This is a regional need, and a regional request. We're trying to position with the government, that this is not about Red Deer College. This is about improving Central Alberta by making the most significant decision that will have wide ranging impact on our region."

As RDC continues it's push of becoming a Polytechnic University, they've reached out for some help from someone who's faced their same problems before.

Ward recently spent a day with Utah Valley University President Mattew Holland about transforming his institution from a vocational to community, to state college, then finally a University.

Ward says Utah Valley's transition transformed their region, and boosted enrollment numbers substantially.

"It is the exact right model for Red Deer College, Grand Prairie, a number of other colleges in Alberta, and lots of colleges around North America, to transform into this type of institution that designs and meets the needs of the region."

Ward says Holland will be visiting Red Deer College and Central Alberta later this year, to further aid their push to grant degrees.

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